- from Ancient Japan
By the early 1100s, Japan was in trouble. Powerful landlords refused to pay their taxes or provide soldiers for the emperor’s army.
The emperor’s government became so weak that officials could not keep order. Bands of robbers roamed the roads, and rich landowners began to build their own armies. Many of their soldiers were peasant farmers, who gave their allegiance to landowners rather than to the distant emperor. The private armies of the most powerful clans fought one another. The soldiers in these armies promised complete loyalty to the clan leader. These warriors called themselves samurai, or “those who serve.” Soon, samurai armies became the most powerful fighting forces in Japan.